Want to know a surefire way to prevent stretch marks? Don’t get pregnant.

Let’s face it, stretch marks, like heartburn and needing to pee all the time, come along with pregnancy (unless you’re Gisele Bundchen, that is). Simply put, your body grows to accommodate the person growing inside you and when that baby comes out, your skin will reluctantly tell the tale.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can to prevent stretch marks from appearing in the first place. Well, maybe a little. The average woman gains about 30 pounds during her pregnancy and dermatologists say that how fast you gain that weight may be as important as how much you gain when it comes to stretch marks. “It’s not a bad idea to not only try to stay within that range but to also gain slowly and steadily, as opposed to in fast spurts,” Dr. Mary Lupo, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine, says to WebMD.

One thing I can tell you, genetics do play a role: if your mother had stretch marks, there’s a good chance you’ll get them. (Oh yeah, and varicose veins too.) Thanks, Mom.

My first stretch marks started to appear in my sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, and boy, did I try to get rid of them. I diligently and fervently applied cocoa butter and vitamin E each morning and each night. I thought I was getting results, but the truth is, I was probably doing little more than keeping my skin well-moisturized.

If they really bother you though, or you happen to be a bikini model, there are some things you can try once the stretch marks appear to help them fade.

First, your doctor can prescribe a retinoid cream that stimulates collagen growth. You can’t use the cream if you’re pregnant or nursing though. I should note that this treatment is usually only effective on fairly recent stretch marks, and since new moms are often nursing, this probably isn’t their best bet.

Another option to think about is laser therapy, which uses wavelengths of light to produce collagen to help make the stretch marks look more like your normal skin. There are different types of laser therapies for different types of stretch marks, so if you’re considering this option, talk to your dermatologist about which option will work best for you.

Finally, you can also look into microdermabrasion, which uses a handheld brush and gently polishes the skin with small crystals. The skin which has been removed is then vacuumed up. The process essentially removes the skin’s topmost layer, allowing new skin to grow in its place. This treatment generally works better on older stretch marks.

The good news is that even without any of these interventions, stretch marks tend to fade over time. So though you may not be able to prevent stretch marks in the first place, they may not be your fate forever.

Stretch marks come with the territory of getting pregnant and having a baby – they’re a sort of battle scar. My philosophy is just to embrace them, because they’re not going anywhere. Just try to accept the new skin you’re in – literally! 

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